Stranded Guyanese in US beg Govt for help in returning home

…after being rejected several times
…agree to abide by COVID protocols

A number of Guyanese stranded in the United States (US) have reached out to the Guyana Government and its diplomatic representatives, in the hopes that they too can be permitted to return home.

Caretaker President David Granger

In a letter cosigned by over two dozen persons, they revealed that their previous attempts to secure permission to return were refused by the various authorities, including the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF).
“Multiple requests for our return were made to various Ministries in Guyana as well as the NCTF and also via the Embassies in Miami, Washington and New York, but they have all been rejected thus far,” the letter seen by this publication stated.
It noted that the Government of Guyana has indicated on several occasions that efforts are being made to facilitate “our return, most recently today when approval was given for the return of various groups of citizens stranded in the Caribbean.”
They pointed out that while they understood the need for travel restrictions, Guyanese stranded in the United States are also faced with the difficult task of rebooking a flight home within 24 hours.

Caretaker Prime Minister and NCTF Chairman, Moses Nagamootoo

According to them, previous attempts to organise such flights have proved futile. It was, therefore, their hope that the Government, through its Consul Generals, could help to organise such a flight; the costs of which the passengers would bear.
The group acknowledged that they understand the conditions the Task Force has laid out for persons to be able to return home, including pre-testing. According to them, they are willing to abide by all established protocols in order to return.
“There are multiple testing sites established across the US where we can access the PCR test, the results of which will be available within the stipulated 48 hours of travel. Only those persons who are negative for COVID-19 will be allowed on the repatriation flight that can be organised by the Consul, with Eastern Airlines, only for citizens of Guyana, at a cost to us.”
“Upon arrival in Guyana, we assure you that we are fully committed in satisfying any requirements by the NCTF and the Ministry of Health.
“Among us, there are persons who also need medical attention from their health care providers in Guyana and some are left without prescription medications for chronic illnesses, since they do not have health insurance in the United States.”
They added that there are students, doctors, engineers, pregnant women, who merely went on vacation or business trips, and with all intentions to return home within one month or less.
According to them, there are two individuals in their group who would have indicated that they have pregnant wives left all alone in Guyana and, therefore, in need of their support.
“We are worried about our families that desperately need us to return home, since many of us stranded here are the sole breadwinners of our household and we now risk losing our jobs in Guyana. Many of us fear that we may be forced into poverty and bankruptcy should we remain here any longer,” the letter stated.
“There are persons who have now become financially paralysed as a result of being compelled to live in a foreign land, with no source of income since we cannot legally work here, and hence are on the brink of starvation. Some persons are left with no other option but to solicit financial aid from relatives and friends.”
According to the group, they are in as much risk from mental health problems brought on by worries over their family in Guyana, as they are at risk of contracting COVID. They noted that some in their group have had to impose their time in the homes of relatives and friends and would have overstayed their legally permitted time in the US.
“Due to the continuous extension of border restrictions, some persons have either overstayed their permitted time with a few who now have expired visas and are impelled to be illegal in the United States, since most persons cannot afford to apply for extension of their visas.”
The missive was addressed to caretaker Prime Minister and NCTF Chairman, Moses Nagamootoo, the Task Force’s Chief Executive Officer Joseph Harmon, caretaker Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence and caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister, Karen Cummings.
Also included were Guyana’s Ambassador to the US, Dr Riyad Insanally and Consul Generals Ramzan Ali and Barbara Atherly.
It was announced on Monday that the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) met and granted approval for a number of things, including the repatriation of Guyanese students stranded overseas and the return of the body of late union leader Komal Chand.
The Guyanese who will be allowed to return home include 19 Guyanese students from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and 70 Guyanese cruise ship workers attached to Royal Caribbean.
In addition, the Task Force approved applications from four Guyanese in St Vincent to return home via SVG Air. Applications from 10 Guyanese in St Maarten to return were also approved.